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Title:Remapping Songdo: A genealogy of a smart city in South Korea
Author(s):Yang, Chamee
Director of Research:Hay, James
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hay, James
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McCarthy, Cameron; Chan, Anita; Tierney, T. F.
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications and Media
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Smart city
South Korea
Abstract:This dissertation addresses the relationship between history, culture, technology, and urban governance in South Korea. It focuses on the technologies and techniques of making and governing a smart city and argues that they have been shaped by the long-term concerns for security, future, development, and globalization. This is not only evident in national economic policies and public discussions of the smart city and the new media technologies, but also in the spatial-material arrangement of urban environment and individual daily practices interacting with the digital environment. My examination of the New Songdo City in South Korea, one of the first smart cities in the world that is technically run by codes and data, provides a historically informed and locally specific account of what sociopolitical concerns, such as national security, public safety, climate change, and economic development, have guided the digitalization of urban governance. For instance, Songdo has deployed numerous sensors and cameras to monitor the urban infrastructures and public space. Contrary to the common public response to surveillance in the West, Koreans have rapidly adapted to the digital media environment and even perceived the monitoring technologies to be safely ‘watching over’ them. This dissertation explores how Korea’s unique cultural sensibilities to security, privacy, and development have driven the country’s status as one of the most cutting-edge, high-tech nations in the world. At the same time, the ongoing proposals for the ‘K-Smart City’ extend the tradition of the export-oriented industrial model formulated during the 1960s. This dissertation serves as a counterpoint to the proliferating narratives that ascribe a universal value to the smart city, by offering a historical and cultural account of the technology and the developmental mentality that characterize Korea’s unique path toward digitalization and globalization. The field of communication and media studies is approached in two differing ways throughout the dissertation. First, I take a socio-material and contextual approach to the smart city and offer a ‘pluralized’ way of thinking about the relationship between media and space. Based on participatory observations, I offer an expanded account of mediation that include urbanization, multiply affected by the governmental rationality and ideal norms of citizenship in South Korea. Second, I take a genealogical approach to the media, cutting across multiple temporalities and scales, and provide a critique in a form of history of the present, by accounting for the problem of power and its relation to the knowledge production and subject formation. Through this genealogy, I trace the history of developmentalism and militarism in South Korean modernization and post-war formation of urban science and technology, by bringing together history of technologies, mentalities, militarism, and developmental government. Following chapters in the dissertation highlight different but interrelated dimensions of the smart city. After briefly reviewing the South Korea’s history of urban planning and its relation to the military government in Chapter 1, I address different dimensions of the smart city in separate chapters – Mobility (Chapter 2), Security (Chapter 3), Environment (Chapter 4), and Futurity (Chapter 5) – and connect them to specific genealogies. I analyze the significance of the smart city with respect to the earlier models of national and urban governance in South Korea and discuss how the complex history embodied and congealed in today’s smart city, as a discourse and a material reality, guides how a desirable future is envisioned and imagined in South Korea.
Issue Date:2020-04-15
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Chamee Yang
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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